The following is taken from our church New Testament Bible reading plan. Those of you who are reading along with the rest of us, will be reading the passage below soon.
This is how Jesus' disciples felt in The Gospel of Matthew when they failed at healing someone.
When they reached the crowd, a man approached and knelt down before him. “Lord,” he said, “have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” (17:14-16 CSB)
Evidently, they expected to be able to heal this boy as they had healed others using the power that Jesus had commissioned them with. And, here was a father who brought them his son who was a lunatic. This man's desperation from seeking to rescue his son repeatedly from self-inflicted harm filled the atmosphere.
I recently visited a mental hospital for the first time. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was a little uncomfortable as prepared to go. For those of us who are "rational," it is hard to be around those whose minds drive them to actions that don't make sense to the rest of us.
So here you have a desperate man, his lunatic son, and representatives of Jesus. Did one of the disciples, maybe Peter, reach out his hand and touch this crazy boy and say, "Unclean spirit, be gone!?" Maybe another disciple, James or John, said, "Unclean Spirit, In the name is Jesus come out of the boy!"
However this happened, everybody around could see that their attempts at healing didn't work. The desperation of the father drove him to Jesus himself. This isn't a bad thing. Many a representative of Jesus Christ will disappoint. Although Jesus has chosen to work through his followers, there are times when people just need to go to Jesus himself.
As you and I who are followers of Jesus travel through our days serving Jesus, there are times when we seek to do the things we have done before, but things don't go right. We wonder, like the disciples did, what has gone wrong?
In fact, the disciples went to Jesus in private and asked him later on:
Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out? ” (17:19 CSB)
Jesus gives them a very direct answer.
“Because of your little faith,” he told them. (17:20 CSB)
The problem of powerlessness is a problem with our faith.
I am not suggesting that yours and my job is to go around healing people. Jesus gave that commission to his apostles, but he did not give that commission to us. But what is clear is that when our faith is right, our power is right.
We won't focus on faith directly. But we will focus on one key lesson of faith.
Faith is persisting in prayer. The Gospel of Mark gives us this event from Mark's perspective. In Jesus' answer to his disciples on why they could not drive out the unclean spirit Jesus says,
“This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.” (Mark 9:29 CSB)
A vibrant faith in God lead leads to God's power in our lives is a faith that persists in prayer.
When is the last time you persisted in prayer? Maybe that is why you feel powerless?